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UK biotech AstronauTx picks £48M to advance Alzheimer’s treatment

AstronauTx founders
Picture credits: AstronauTx

AstronauTx, a UK-based biotech startup specialising in developing treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders, has successfully closed a £48 million Series A funding round. The investment was spearheaded by Novartis Venture Fund, accompanied by prominent global venture investors such as Brandon Capital, Bristol Myers Squibb, EQT Life Sciences (investing from the LSP Dementia Fund), and MPM Capital. Existing investor, the Dementia Discovery Fund, also participated in this funding round.

This funding injection is earmarked to push AstronauTx’s portfolio of small-molecule drugs, including a clinical study focused on patients with Alzheimer’s disease for their lead program. These treatments aim to deliver both symptomatic relief and disease-modifying benefits.

Founded in 2019 through support from the Dementia Discovery Fund and led by David Reynolds and Ruth McKernan, AstronauTx operates with the objective of developing groundbreaking drugs to rectify the disrupted physiology of the brain. This involves enhancing the support function of astrocytes, the brain’s most prevalent cell type.

In recent months, AstronauTx has made significant progress in disrupting treatments for brain-related ailments. In July, the company partnered with Saniona, a Danish biotechnology firm, to identify new treatments by modulating a novel, undisclosed ion channel target. Additionally, AstronauTx expanded its portfolio of programs, showcasing its commitment to driving innovation in this critical field.

Furthermore, in September, the company received a notable Innovate UK grant, which will be instrumental in funding preclinical work on one of its promising programs.

AstronauTx’s dedication to pioneering advancements in Alzheimer’s treatments and related neurodegenerative disorders remains at the forefront of its mission, and this substantial funding will be instrumental in realizing this vision.

How does AstronauTx work?

AstronauTx creates medicines that fix problems in how the brain works. They focus on improving the support provided by a lot of brain cells called astrocytes.

While the company still studies astrocytes, they are now also trying to find ways to fight dementia symptoms caused by brain degeneration.

Scientists have been curious about how astrocytes could help treat Alzheimer’s. The treatments they’re working on are expected to help with both the symptoms and the main causes of the disease.

The brain not only helps us remember things, but it also gets rid of waste that piles up during the day. AstronauTx wants to make this waste-clearing process work better, so harmful proteins don’t build up and cause brain problems.

“We now know that the processes causing Alzheimer’s and other similar diseases are modifiable. Progress towards a compendium of new drugs against these devastating diseases is thankfully well underway. Our treatments will be oral drugs, applicable across multiple neurodegenerative conditions, and additive with mechanisms that are currently in late-stage development,” said Dr. Ruth McKernan, co-founder of AstronauTx.

Dr. Marianne Uteng, Managing Director at the Novartis Venture Fund, said: “We are proud to have gathered a stellar international syndicate that aims to develop new therapies for Alzheimer’s Disease. The founders and investors include world experts in neuroscience, and the founder’s discovery is thought to have potential in halting disease progression & improve patients’ quality of life.”

Dr. Laurence Barker, Partner with the Dementia Discovery Fund, said: “DDF led the creation of AstronauTx to pursue the development of novel mechanisms to treat Alzheimer’s and the lean team have done a fantastic job building an exciting early stage portfolio. We are thrilled to see their hard work recognised by this leading venture syndicate and raise sufficient capital to advance these novel approaches into patients.” 

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